Has Celebrity Worship Gone Too Far?

Two toilets, each previously owned by a celebrity, were on the auction block last week. That got musician David Was wondering if perhaps we've gone a little too far in our worship of celebrities.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Americans are celebrity ga-ga. Okay, maybe not all of us, but take last night's Emmy Awards. Thirteen and a half million people tuned in to check out the famous.

Well, musician David Was thinks he's found an example of celeb worship taken too far. He's talking about the auction of two celebrity toilets.

DAVID WAS: Whether it's Britney Spears' lopped-off locks or Elvis Presley's empty pill bottles, the personal effects of celebrities are the modern- day equivalent of medieval religious relics.

But it's far easier to comprehend why someone would want Michael Jackson's sequined glove than to fathom why someone's commode would interest anyone other than a plumber or a trash collector.

One of the toilets for sale belonged to the fastidiously private J.D. Salinger, whose attempt to disappear from the world's radar was thwarted by his daughter's posthumous memoir, and reams of snooping and speculation.

To add ignominy to insult, the couple that bought his Cornish, New Hampshire, home steered his toilet to a North Carolina auctioneer, who had it listed last week on eBay for a million bucks. The object was touted as having been owned and used by Salinger. The phrase "too much information" springs to mind.

For those whose interest hews to the private lives of rock stars, a lovely blue-and-white porcelain number, once owned by John Lennon, was sold at a Beatles memorabilia auction in Liverpool last week for nearly $15,000.

Imagine no possessions, Lennon famously wrote, I wonder if you can. The answer is a resolute no. Everything is for sale, especially if a celebrity touched, breathed upon or otherwise - um, utilized it.

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JOHN LENNON (Musician): (Singing) ...and the world will live as one.

WAS: A quick perusal of the online auction world reveals a treasure trove of A-list detritus on the block, from Jackie Kennedy Onassis' dirty oven mitts to an empty hair-color bottle used by Kurt Cobain that sold for $175.

Add to that Jack Nicholson's baby teeth - you can't handle the tooth - a cough drop spit out by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a Daily Variety delivered to and read by Marlon Brando.

I once loaned a paperback to Bob Dylan entitled "Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels," by Michael Grant. He devoured it in a week's time, arriving at the studio every morning with the book rolled up and crammed into his front pants pocket. It is disheveled, missing several critical chapters, and you can have it today for a starting bid of - shall we say $10 million?

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: Musician David Was lives in Los Angeles.

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